CRANBERRY TWP — In many ways, David and Andrea Shilling learned to appreciate education from their parents.
David's father, Jack, was a research scientist. Andrea's mother was a teacher. Together with Jack, the couple opened a Sylvan Learning center in Upper St. Clair several years ago.
This month, they opened a Sylvan Learning location in Cranberry Township's Regional Learning Alliance (RLA).
“We wanted to help the kids in our area,” Andrea said. “To be known as a place where you can come and get help for your kids.”
Sylvan Learning is an international franchise specializing in tutoring, test prep and academic enrichment used by more than 7 million parents since its establishment in 1979.
Georgia Chasen, vice president of franchise development, said the educational company offers a variety of individualized programs aimed at meeting student needs.
Sylvan provides services for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Before beginning a Sylvan program, students are individually assessed to see in which areas they might need help.
“It's not a one-size-fits-all,” Andrea said.
Rae Ann Cooper, the local program's director of education, explained Sylvan is considered a private academic school in Pennsylvania, meaning instructors must follow state standards when it comes to teaching certifications and clearances. The part-time teachers working at the Shillings' centers also work full-time jobs as teachers in area schools.
“We work with the schools, but we do not replace them,” Chasen said of Sylvan being designed to provide supplemental education.
While the Shillings don't have backgrounds in education, they are passionate about learning.
“We are so very proud to have them here,” said Justin Griffith, CEO of RLA.
Griffith said RLA was looking to fill a tutoring need when David Shilling brought Sylvan to his attention. Griffith hopes the center will both assist new students and enhance current RLA services.
The Shillings want their Sylvan locations to build character, not just students.
“I just want kids to be in an environment where they feel safe,” David said. “Valued.”
The community is invited to attend a grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. March 7 in the Cranberry Sylvan center, located in Suite 2223 of the RLA on Cranberry Woods Drive. Interested parties can call 412-387-2068 or visit www.sylvancranberry.com.